Tuesday, April 29, 2008

What's So Bad About Being Bio-Biased?

What's So Bad About Being Bio-Biased?The New York Times' Natalie Angier writes amusingly of humans' penchant for favoring animal species anthropocentricly reflective of their own moral values. I suppose I'm guilty of such behavior myself, given how much I write about the peaceful, family-oriented qualities of the free-range Quaker Parrots of Brooklyn. Furthermore, I really do believe that the irrational affinity that many Manhattanites display for hawks and falcons is due to an unconscious self-identification with such stylish predators.

Language plays a big part in the good animal/bad animal dichotomy, which is why my own pupils narrow and adrenaline levels rise whenever somebody unfairly vilifies our newly native Monk Parrots an "invasive species." At this point I must remind them that our beloved monks have been "introduced" to urban environments, just like those fancy peregrine falcons they're so attached to.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Ballad of the Brooklyn Parrots: The (Definitive) Full-Motion Version!

The song "The Ballad of the Brooklyn Parrots" has evolved significantly from its humble roots as a free MP3 file. First folks asked for a Youtube version, so still photographs were added to the track. Then folks began asking for actual MTV-style moving images to accompany the song: the resulting video is embedded below: enjoy! -- and remember, "they're mighty loud and they're mighty raucous; the scientists call them Myiopsitta Monachus!" - Steve Baldwin



Lyrics: The Ballad of the Brooklyn Parrots (Guitar: D /E chord alternation throughout)
I've got some news for you baby, and it might not be so good
There's an avian invader in the neighborhood
Yeah, they're little green parrots from the Argentine
They make their nests so high in the power line

It happened back in 1968, a bunch of parrots broke loose from a shipping crate
Now they're all over the borough, you can see them in the air
The little green birds that just don't care -- about you
Or your girlfriend on a respirator -- yeah, they're avian invaders, baby
And they're all over Brooklyn now

Yeah, they're mighty loud, and they're mighty raucous
The scientists call them Myiopsitta Monachus
And they're all over town, you can look up and they're looking down on you

Yeah, they're little green parrots from the Argentine
They make their nests so high in the power line
And they call them a pest; I wonder if their hearts are true
Living on the avenue

Refrain:
It happened back in 1968, a bunch of parrots broke loose from a shipping crate
It happened back in 1968, a bunch of parrots broke loose from a shipping crate
There's an avian invader in the neighborhood

(Copyright 2006-2008 Steve Baldwin)

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Science Notes: Quaker Parrots Directly Related to Tyrannasaurus Rex!

Breaking News: Science Notes: Quaker Parrots Directly Related to Tyrannasaurus Rex!An intriguing article published by the New York Times confirms what many observers of the wild parrots of Brooklyn have long suspected: our airborne "green dragons" are directly related to Tyrannassaurus Rex. Welcome to the 'hood, Dino!

Breaking News: Bronx Wild Parrot Colony Bounces Back!


Wild Parrots at the Throggs Neck Little League Baseball Field, The Bronx, NY

Last June, a major wild parrot rescue operation was mounted to save more than fifty baby Quaker Parrots endangered by a planned lighting replacement project in the Bronx (you can see a photo-essay or watch a Youtube video documenting this event). The rescued baby birds were safely transported to New England, where, now fledged, they constitute a "Strategic Quaker Parrot Reserve" under the care of Foster Parrot's Marc Johnson.

Barry Schwartz, of the Maspeth Bird Haven, recently returned to the Throggs Neck Little League to survey the progress made by the colony to re-establish itself. He reports that "the colony has now built nests on all seven of the light poles; some nests are now of considerable size, and the sounds of Quakers can be heard on all four sides of the block the field occupies. I only had 15 minutes to look around, but would say that the Quakers must have laid bumper clutches since last year, making up for the ones relocated to Foster Parrots."

This happy development will be very welcome news for the residents of Throggs Neck, many of whom feared that last year's light replacement project would leave them parrotless.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Wild Parrots Invade Red Hook; Some Residents Denounce Nests as "Unsightly"

Wild Parrots Invade Red Hook; Residents Denounce NestsBrooklyn's excellent "Gowanas Lounge" blog reports on the stir caused by wild parrots in Red Hook. The Red Hook colony is one of Brooklyn's less explored wild parrot colonies (because it's difficult to get to via public transportation, as are many interesting spots in Red Hook). Scientists believe that this wild parrot colony was formed several years ago by a "breakaway" group from nearby Green-Wood Cemetery.

Some property-minded residents of Red Hook are evidently complaining about the shape and general condition of the parrots' nests, characterizing the construction as "slovenly." I would advise these residents to simply give the parrots time to complete the core construction tasks (after which they will certainly focus on finishing and general "beauty work." Quaker Parrots are hard-working perfectionists who will not give up until every twig is trimmed carefully to present an aesthetically attractive exterior. After all, these parrots are considered to be "the master architects of the bird world."

Monday, April 21, 2008

Breaking News: Eyewitness IDs Con Edison in Brooklyn Wild Parrot Colony Disappearance

Breaking News: Eyewitness IDs Con Edison in Brooklyn Wild Parrot Colony DisappearanceA witness who requests anonymity has contacted me about the mysterious disappearance of the wild Quaker Parrot colony in the Sheepshead Bay/Manhattan Beach area of Brooklyn in January of this year. According to this person, a single Con Edison truck, operating in daylight, removed all the wild parrot nests along Oriental Boulevard during the 3rd week of January. This account accords with my own observations. It is not clear what happened to the parrots themselves.

What is particularly distressing about this account is that it directly contradicts statements made by Con Edison that the nests were removed "by poachers," an explanation which is on its face patently absurd. While there have been past poaching incidents in Brooklyn, the poachers steal the parrots, not the nests. In this case, however, all traces of the once-thriving wild parrot colony in Manhattan Beach were removed.

As I've noted on many occasions, I have no animus toward Con Edison, which I believe usually acts in a generally transparent manner. In the past, I have received many accounts from residents of Brooklyn alleging that the utility company engages in tactics (including the use of chemical agents and an alliance with criminal parrot poachers) which have not been borne out by the facts. Compared to other utility companies that routinely kill wild parrots, Con Edison's stance is moderate and I believe that they deserve credit for behaving in a moderate way.

Still, it is troubling that Con Edison did not simply tell the public what it was doing in this instance, and especially troubling that it the removals in January, at a time when the parrots were exposed to harsh weather. My sincere hope is that Con Edison chooses transparency and best practices over secrecy and unilateral actions in the future. If you have additional information about the missing Manhattan Beach wild parrots, please send me e-mail at steve@brooklynparrots.com.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Amazing Quaker Parrot Nest Construction Video: Sparky Builds His Dream House

Back in January, we wrote about Sparky the Quaker Parrot, of Portland, Oregon. Sparky's owner, Linda Magee, described by Oregon Online as "the doyenne of Portland's Chamber Music Northwest," has graciously allowed Sparky to build large structures in her dining room. Linda's new time-lapse video captures Sparky's efforts over a 10-day period. In Linda's words, we now see "more evidence of the skill, intelligence and hard work of the amazing Quaker parrot." There's more avian architecture to enjoy at sparkyvonvogelsang; Sparky's Youtube channel.